Garden Spot in Capital Heights NeighborhoodClick on pics for captions
I’ve been in Baton Rouge almost three weeks now, and I’ve yet to eat Cajun food. I don’t know how that’s happened. Usually when I come down for a visit, that’s what I have. But, it seems that people who live here don’t really eat Cajun food all that often. That being said, they do have high standards about their food in these parts. Food is not taken lightly here. It is the hinge pin of almost all socializing.
Last night, my friend Ray invited me to a block party in Capital Heights. I got my first taste of the nightlife in the neighborhood that borders the street where I will live starting next week. Capital Heights neighborhood is nestled between the main thoroughfares of Jefferson Highway and Acadian Thruway to the east and west. Capital Heights Avenue runs through the middle of the neighborhood east and west. One block on either side of the avenue is considered in the “hood”. Since I’m a newbie to Baton Rouge, I don’t know all of the history and goodies on this area, so, if you do, please post some comments and tell me about this area. It seems really cool. The block party was held on a corner in front of the coolest place I’ve ever seen. The woman who lives here apparently loves pink, and she’s an artist of great talent. Her outside garden is adorned with vintage campers, old evening gowns, refurbished junk of all kinds, crystals, and even a pink volkswagen bus. Not a spot was untouched by some beautiful little trinket re-purposed to decorate her quirky, lovely outdoor space. I had a blast hanging out with the friends of friends and then heading over to Superior Grill for a late-night dinner.
My friend Jean Ann has been appointed lovingly as my lunchtime tour guide in Baton Rouge. Ironically, she relocated back to Baton Rouge in the past year just like I did. We’ve had a great time swapping stories about being drawn back to the place where we grew up. I wrote a blog earlier in the year about the culture in Louisiana, and Jean Ann wrote about her journey in a comment on that blog. When I read it, I became very aware that I was probably in that same process, but I wasn’t ready to admit it. Anyway, we’ve ended up in the same office, and she’s been showing me the hot lunch spots.
Our first day we went to Serop’s Express which is a Lebanese restaurant. I’m not sure why, but Baton Rouge is loaded with Greek and Lebanese restaurants. And, every one I’ve visited has been phenomenal. This one was a buffet-style, and I was able to get some healthy fare with beans, lentils, veggies and a whole wheat pita. It was fabulous.
The next day she took me to a place called Yvette Marie’s which is in a little antique and art area dubbed Circa 1857. She told me that they have different specials everyday, and you have to get there early. She explained that when they run out, they are out. We apparently got there in time as I got a healthy serving of another healthy meal of steamed broccoli, stuffed chicken breast and rice. We also got a not so healthy piece of Lemonberry Cake which was a cold cake reminiscent of those old Jello cakes I grew up with. It was chilled, light and creamy. I loved walking in and out of the place looking at the artwork and the way the stores were so delightfully designed. It felt more like a quirky, fun museum than a place to shop. The women who worked in Yvette Marie’s were very gracious about allowing me to take their pictures for the blog. I knew there would be one.
Our final outing was for a burger on Friday. Dearman’s is an old drugstore soda fountain that touts the best hamburgers in town. I ordered the cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake. I really just wanted the chocolate shake, but I needed to eat lunch because it was the right thing to do. Everything was delicious. I wasn’t as big on the fries, but I’m not a big french fry eater anyway. The rest of the party was so jealous of my chocolate shake that they ordered one to go. Chickens that they are, they ordered smalls. I, on the other hand, had the whole enchilada, and it was worth every drop.
Dearman’s Soda Shop
Tonight, Jean Ann is preparing shrimp etouffee, crabcakes and seared scallops for dinner. Dang, I have died and gone to heaven. I also have some Bluebell ice cream and hot fudge sauce. I may have to get some whipped cream and nuts for a whole celebration. If I’m going to get fat, I may as well do it in style. I have one more week of limbo with a built-in excuse to not exercise and not cook on a regular basis. Once I get in my house and kitchen, I’ll have to get back to eating healthfully and running with my new running friends, Debbie and Bobbi Jo. In Baton Rouge, there is more than one running group that runs every night of the week. Some are hard core runners. Others just run a couple of miles to go back to a bar and eat burgers and drink beer. I’ll have to try them all out. One thing is for sure, running will be a must in a place where good food is this plentiful.